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Career panning out nicely

by Vincent Ciccarello

ON THE BOX: Arts graduate James Mitchell (right) starred in Home and Away (photo courtesy of Channel 7)Jobbing actors are regularly faced with the problem of how to make ends meet between gigs, but for James Mitchell, the dilemma is deciding whether to work in front of the camera or behind it.

Better known to thousands of viewers as cult leader Jonah in Home and Away, Mitchell is also a dab hand at media production.

"I never thought I would get to pursue acting as a career. I aimed to work behind the scenes," he said.

But two years into his UniSA Bachelor of Arts (Communications) degree, a tutor suggested Mitchell audition for the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

"I tried out for NIDA and was fortunate enough to get in that year," he said.

He landed the Home and Away role as a new NIDA graduate in 2004 and, despite the 3am wake-up calls to be on the set in time, Mitchell relished the opportunity.

"It was great, just to be working and to be part of it," he said. "Everyone involved is so dedicated to the craft. And they work so hard."

With a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts in his top pocket, Mitchell returned to complete his communications degree at UniSA last year.

"Iíve used the principles learnt at UniSA in my professional work. Media production gave me a great grounding and an introduction to the industry," he said.

Mitchellís next screen incarnation is as one of the characters in a New York 1930s gangster game being developed for Sony Playstation but he also has plans to shoot his own short films.